My last year of public school was the 8th grade. I spent the next two years in a small alternative (read "hippy", this was the 1970s) school in the Bay Area. There were no required classes. After that I dropped out. When I was almost 17 my family moved to Indiana, which this California boy hated. So when I turned 18 I bought a bus ticket and returned to California. But not before I had volunteered at the local public library in Spencer, IN.
In California, I got into a summer youth employment program where I was placed (at my request) at the local junior college library. When that program ran out I was able to get a real job there. After several years as a library assistant I decided to make it my career. I took a high school equivalency test and starting taking general education courses at the college where I worked.
I decided to get my Bachelor's degree at Humboldt State University (HSU), so I transferred my one year of credits to the College of the Redwoods, completed another year, and transferred to HSU as a junior. After getting my B.A. in Geography, with a minor in Computer Science, I was accepted at the UC Berkeley School of Library and Information Studies. A year later I emerged with a degree. Four months later I was hired as a librarian at UC Berkeley, which was notorious for not hiring local graduates straight out of library school.
Since I had library experience I was able to get staff jobs (not work study) wherever I went. This enabled me to pay my way through college. So although I was a high school dropout (and it could be argued I didn't really attend high school at all), I made it just fine.
Because of this I laugh whenever a parent stresses over getting their kid in the right preschool so they can get in the right schools all the way up to, and including, the best graduate school. Sure, I'll stress over getting my kids into the college of their choice just like anyone. But you won't find me in despair if that doesn't come to pass. I've learned that there are as many paths to success as there are people.